Marco Rubio: George W. Bush 'Did a Fantastic Job'

It's strange to hear an endorsement so ringing of an unpopular ex-president who failed in so many different ways.

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Liz Lynch / National Journal

George W. Bush's tenure began with a catastrophic terrorist attack. It ended with a catastrophic financial crisis. In the interim, it was consumed mostly with fighting a costly war of choice. The invasion of Iraq was launched on false premises with inadequate planning; it was poorly managed for years on end; and even America's fallback goal of a stable democracy in the Middle East wasn't achieved. In fact, the invasion and occupation mostly just strengthened Iran's position. Our enemies also benefited from the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay.

On the domestic front, President Bush signed an education reform bill that liberals and conservatives now agree was a mistake; he failed to reform Social Security, and rather than finding a way to save money on Medicare he added a costly prescription drug benefit to it even as he cut taxes. It's no wonder that the deficit exploded during his spendthrift two terms in the White House. Bush's faith based initiatives were a bust, as were his immigration reform efforts, and he signed into law campaign finance reform legislation he'd previously deemed unconstitutional. He created the instantly dysfunctional Department of Homeland Security and illegally spied on American citizens without warrants. His dubious appointments included Alberto Gonzalez and Harriet Miers, a Supreme Court choice so bad that his own base revolted. And he left office so unpopular that his party suffered a historic defeat; even four years later its presidential candidates did their utmost to avoid saying his name in speeches and debates.

That is the record Marco Rubio deems fantastic.

As he put it:

George W. Bush, in my opinion, did a fantastic job as president over eight years, facing a set of circumstances during those eight years that are different from the circumstances that a President Romney would face.
Partisan loyalty sure does make people say ill-conceived things.
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Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

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